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Rasmus and the Vagabond

rasmus and the vagabond

Poor Poor Rasmus.  If only he had curly hair and better yet- was a little girl instead of a boy with straight hair. Surely if he was, the nice families would come and adopt him from the orphanage, Right?  While the older boys try to tell Rasmus to stop hoping for a family, he simply can’t give up the dream and settle into the orphanage life, which is all he has ever known.  Rasmus is a pretty good boy, but he just cannot take the orphanage anymore and he runs away wishing for freedom and hopefully a family.  It turns out, freedom is scary when you are a little kid in a dark, cold and foodless world.  Oh, he forgot about hunger! And Man, is he cold!  Thankfully our little friend bumps into the friendly Oscar not too long into his newfound independence.  A disheveled, friendly man who declares himself to be God’s best friend.

Together Rasmus and Oscar travel the countryside in search of food.  They sing for their supper (Oscar is a wonderful accordion player how can earn decent money when he tries) and do various chores to get by.  The country setting makes me want to get out of the city immediately and go for a stroll down some dirt road and just enjoy the world for a bit.  In fact, I was jealous of it all if I am honest and can see why Oscar chose to be a wandering bum.  The world isn’t all rosy for our friends.  The police suspect them of stealing all the time, and they bump into two very bad men.  I do not want to wreck the surprise or storyline, but this isn’t just a cute story about a friendship between a lonely boy and a nice man.  There’s action in it to keep the kids entertained.  Action with guns, and rolling fist fights, Jail-time and secret hideouts.

For a book written in 1956, Rasmus and the Vagabond sure is a timeless and wonderful read.  Astrid Lindgren does a fantastic job writing books that kids and adults both love.  There was emotion that made me want to hug poor little Rasmus and his fantasy of a mom to hug him when he is sick, and action enough that kept me reading late into the night to see what was going to happen. When I closed the book… I literally sighed a happy sigh and went to sleep with a big silly smile on my face. I thought I knew how it would end, but I didn’t guess correctly! I have read a number of Lindgren books, and this one is my favorite so far.  I am so glad that Plough Publishing re-released this story (using the same illustration as the older hardback versions) the book world is a better place because of it.  New York Book Review is releasing two other Lindgren books in May that I am eagerly awaiting so I can read them too. Mio My Son, and Seacrow Island so be on the lookout for those too.  It has gotten to the point where I don’t have to know what the book is about, if Astrid Lindgren wrote it, I’m going to read it.  I know it’s early in the year still, but for now Rasmus and the Vagabond is my favorite read of 2015.  I received a copy of this book for review and its going on my favorites shelf to read to my girls when they can handle chapter books.

  • Author: Astrid Lindgren
  • Illustrator: Eric Palmquist
  • ISBN: 978-0874865974
  • Publisher: Plough Publishing House
  • Copyright: 2015 first published 1956

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Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

1

The Lady & The Lion – Laurel Long & Jacqueline K. Ogburn

If you are llady and the lionooking for an illustrator that will take your breath away, Laurel Long is it. Combine that with my favorite fairy tale- Beauty and the Beast, and you have a surefire winner.  “The Lady and the Lion” uniquely mixes story elements from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” with  “Beauty and the Beast” for an action packed story boys and girls both should love.

Summary:  A merchant unknowingly steals a singing Lark from a ferocious lion’s garden. In exchange for his life and the bird, he agrees to give the lion whatever greets him first as he returns home.  Unfortunately, it is his youngest daughter who races out to see him and he then must take her to the lion’s house.  As any father would, he tries to talk her out of going, but she is brave and wants to keep her father’s word so she goes.

The lady and the lion from Laurel Long’s website. Laurellong.com

It turns out, the Lion isn’t all he seems, every night he and all his castle inhabitants turn back into their human form.  And what a beautiful prince he is!  They quickly fall in love and are happily married.  Unfortunately, there is another part to the curse, if any candlelight should touch his human form, he will turn into a dove for seven years, forced to roam the earth and never rest.

Well, accidents happen, and her wonderful half lion, half man husband is turned into a dove!  Our lady heroine  hunts the earth looking for her lost love, asking the help of the sun, moon and the North wind.    Our Lady helps battles an evil dragon/sorceress but evil escapes with her husband to a wicked castle.   Using the gifts from the sun and moon our lady breaks in and rescues her prince, riding the world of the evil enchantress and living happily ever after of course.

Lady and the lion against the dragon. From laurel Long’s website laurellong.com

Review:  The pictures alone make this story worth having, but I love that we have a strong heroine who loves her father too much to let him break his word to a lion.  (not a safe idea)  She is faithful and searches out her husband to the ends of the earth.  Don’t worry guys,  the Lion doesn’t just sit back and wait for his lady to rescue him, he battles the dragon fiercely in his lion form.  The lady and he work together in the end to defeat their enemy.  Now for some bad news.   This book is sadly out of print. Not only that, but I am not the only one who loves it.  So, if you have to have it in your collection (and I tend to think you do) you aren’t going to get it cheaply.  Even finding a copy at the local library is going to require patience and a wait list.  I snagged my copy from ebay I think.  This book is definitely a valuable favorite of mine and worth extra money.

  • Author: Laurel Long & Jacqueline K. Ogburn
  • Illustrator: Laurel Long
  • ISBN: 0-8037-2651-1
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
  • copyright: 2003

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0

Fairy Wings – Lauren Mills & Dennis Nolan

This book right here is one everyone should own. I stumbled upon this gem (which is out of print, so find yourself a copy asap) through a list on Goodreads for “Gorgeously illustrated Fairy Tales”  and Gorgeous it is!

fairy wings cover

Shiny golden letters dress up this dust jacket showing Fia and Kip dancing.

Summary:  I will admit right now, I read this book sometimes when my kids are nowhere around. It’s stunning, and the story is touching. Fia, our heroine, happens to be the only fairy around without wings.  Because of this, she has no fairy friends, and her seven other sisters are embarrassed of her.  Fia plays with a frog, a rat and a crow and that simply isn’t done!  Because she is wing-less she also does things other fairy-kind wouldn’t dream of doing, like paddling around the river in a goose’s egg.  It turns out, she befriends a fairy  boy named Kip doing just this and they are fast friends.  He invites her to the May Dance and she just might work up the courage to go with him.

Fia and Father

“I have eight beautiful daughters… “might be my favorite line in the whole book. (yeah, I am a mom and I love my two very different girls like crazy, so this hits home for the parent. I’m pretty sure my kids have never given it a second thought.)

There is more drama than just the wingless, ugly duckling kind. You see, there is a Troll lurking about the woods and the May Dance just might be the perfect time for said troll to snatch up all the fairy people!  Perhaps Fia and her land-dwelling friends might be perfect to save them?  Don’t forget,  there’s also an adorable love story thrown in too.

fairy wings troll

Every good Fairy tale should have something creepy in it. This certainly fits that bill! Yes, those are tiny feet and hands sticking out of the net!

Review: Beautiful illustrations aside, this book isn’t just fluff to fill our kids heads like so much of the princess culture tends to offer us.  Fia is different, brave and kind.  She doesn’t wait around for a man to save her, but when a boy befriends her and actually loves her- it’s very touching.  I like Fia also because she is friends with unlovable creatures- not just the animals, but the Woodkins too (funny looking tiny land people). Her parents aren’t cruel, they love her desperately and support her throughout, a message which I enjoy reading to my kids all day long.  As far as fairy tale books, this one is one of my favorites.  Hopefully I have talked you into the wonderful book that this is.

  • Author: Lauren Mills
  • Illustrator: Lauren Mills & Dennis Nolan
  • ISBN: 0-316-57397-3
  • Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company
  • Copyright: 1995

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Disclaimer:  I purchased this book with my own money (though I did not pay nearly enough for it!) I emailed the author to ask permission for the review and she said yes! (good thing too, She has more books I want to review!)

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Clever Jack Takes the Cake- Candace Fleming

This is my husband’s favorite book to read to the girls at night. I love the story too, but he and the girls have so much fun reading it that I don’t read this one out loud as much as he does.

clever jackSummary: Poor Jack wants to go to the princesses birthday party, but cannot afford a gift.  He decides to make her a cake for which he must trade his few belongings to make, on his way to the party with his beautiful cake, birds, trolls, creepy dark forests, cake eating bears and strawberry allergies all get in the way of his wonderful creation making it safely to the party.  In the end, he is left standing before the princess with nothing but a story to tell… well she loves it!  Stuff is boring but stories are fun!  The two become friends and eat cake together.  (My daughter literally said- “nawh, I like stuff more, mom… ” so we have to more work to do on her!)

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Review:  This one is so fun to read and definitely one that adults will enjoy as well.  It has remained a favorite for over a year now, so I would call that classic material. Jack’s positive attitude is great and hopefully something that will help kids remember that stuff doesn’t make you happy and a good attitude always helps. The illustrations are unique, with a simple hand-drawn look.

Information:

  • Author: Candace Fleming
  • Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
  • ISBN: 978-0-375-84979-4
  • Publisher: Schwarz & Wade Books – imprint of Random House inc.

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Disclaimer:  I purchased this book with my own money (and a few copies for friends too)